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Posts Tagged ‘Gay Rights’

Pro-Antisocial

Being gay is like being left handed.

Left handed people just are.  It’s how their minds work.  And NO, I’m not saying that left handed has ANYTHING to do with being gay or that left handed people are gay, so don’t write me crazy letters about it.  What I am saying is that being left handed is not a choice.  It is a function of the brains of left handed people.  Maybe it’s structural or genetic but, whatever the case, it is a natural state of being.

Those with primitive religious beliefs have subjected the left handed to suspicion and derision.  The word sinister, which we use to mean evil, untrustworthy and “underhanded,” is actually the Latin word for left.  Left handed children have been forced to use their right hands, often to their mental detriment and never in their best interest.

Such old ideas seem silly and ill informed in this era.  The President is left handed, for heaven’s sake, and clearly no one feels prejudiced against him! Right?

Our primitive beliefs about the left handed have abated, though systemic bias still exists.  The world is literally designed for the right handed majority.

In much the same way, gay people live as a minority in a world designed for the majority.  The primitive religious beliefs of some, have been used to push gay people outside society.  Simple social customs like dating, the prom, going steady and marriage, around which society is designed, have been denied to gay people.  Attempts to participate in these normal social rituals from a same sex perspective have been punished by further exclusions in work, housing and the rights of citizenship like peaceable assembly and the pursuit of happiness.

As a result, our resourceful, creative and gay little band developed a shadow society within the boundaries that second class citizenship forced upon us.  The rituals of pair bonding were replaced by furtive outlaw sex not necessarily because it’s what we wanted but because we had no other choice.  We were not allowed to participate in the personal sexual evolution that leads to the expression of the pair bond through marriage.

If you are forced to live outside society, your behavior becomes anti-social, not by design but by necessity.  In this way, we became antisocial, not by choice but for want of choice.

Enter the 21st Century.

After forty plus years of civil rights struggle, gay people are beginning to attain the rights of full American Citizenship.  We’re not there yet, but with the fall of federally institutionalized discrimination and the rise of marriage rights, gay people are getting closer to getting what we asked for and what we said we wanted.

The news is great and getting better, but the response in some quarters is surprising.

Like the people in Plato’s cave, many gay people have come to believe that the shadow life of second class citizenry IS being gay.  People in and outside the community have confused and conflated the anonymous hook ups and cover-of-darkness-sexuality that has long been our only option with what it means to be gay.  That is no more true than saying that S&M is what it means to be straight even though the Marquis de Sade and the majority of those who follow in his path are straight.

Gay people are ten percent of everyone – every group.  We are not all the same save for the one relatively minor shared trait of our sexual, same-gender preference.   It would be a mistake and an extreme form of discrimination to try to describe all gay people in such limited terms.  We don’t all want to hang out at bath houses.  Some of us don’t like gay bars.  Some of us like to get up in drag and some are happier in a sports stadium.  We are not any one thing, though who we are allowed to be has been severely limited for a very long time.

But as those limits fall away, surprising new oppressors are emerging.

We have an election coming up in my little town with its big gay population.  I’ve been thrown by the way this  issue has arisen.  The same people who fought and marched for the rights of marriage, whose bumpers are stickered with slogans about hate not being a “family value” are now opposed to including gay people into the mainstream.

A local gay politician here is actually campaigning against our being a “family oriented” community.  His Tea-Party tactics are whipping up fear in gay people who have lived as second class citizens so long they seem to have forgotten that the battle against Proposition H8 was a battle FOR gay families.

Now, no one is saying that any rarified sexual tastes should be denied anybody, or at least I’m not.  Hell, gay people can’t hold a candle to what straight people get up to sexually.  There are 8 billion people in the world and gays had nothing to do with it.  Sexual behavior neither defines nor characterizes anyone’s participation in society as a whole.  What’s more everyone has the right to opt out of participation in social norms.  I hope what we’ve fought for is to make that right one of our choices, not our only option as it has been for too long.

Gaining admission to the mainstream means letting go of our second class status.  Equal rights doesn’t mean that I can do whatever I want to.  Equal rights means taking equal responsibility.  Saying “I Do” comes with a whole host of duties, whether it’s taking an oath to defend my country, become a citizen, or show up for my partner no matter what.  It means growing up.  For a very long time we have been forced to live outside society.  We have embraced and come to love the antisocial behavior that was forced upon us.  We have lived like lost boys, excluded from the rights and privileges of becoming men and women.

We can still live the Peter Pan life if we choose to, but that is not equality.  That is a choice.

As we gain our rights after this long, hard fought struggle — a struggle that is far from over — I hope we will not lose sight of what it is so many have sacrificed so much to achieve.

African Americans endured and survived years of discrimination but it would be a mistake to allow slavery to define what is it to be black.

I do not want to lose the cultural identity of our gay community.  Neither do I want an identity forced upon me by those who claim to be on my side.  Victory is taking our place at the table, not demanding a table of our own.

 

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Turns out, you can’t pass laws taking away the rights of people you don’t like! Imagine that.  In a country literally built on the principle of inalienable equal rights, it has taken all this fuss to determine that the majority can’t take away the rights of folks they hate.  And we’re still going to have to ask a few more people before we can be sure.

Honestly!

But, that said, the world is a little less hateful today than it was the morning of August 4th.  I’m relieved and glad and celebrating.  The gay boys and girls in California are still singing.  I feel like I can celebrate the outcome of the November 2008 elections for the first time.  At the time, I felt so excluded from that exultant outcome by the electoral expression of hatred that is Prop H8.

But the end of a little more voter sponsored bigotry is a victory for every American, not just the gay ones.  Everybody is a member of some minority.  That’s right, no matter how mainstream you are there’s someone out there who hates you for it.   Save for the ideals that, in theory at least, protect us all, I could make a list of the groups I don’t like and put together a campaign to systematically take away their rights through grotty little ballot initiatives and special interest legislation.

For instance, were it up to me Rightwing radio and TV hosts would be off the air and forced to give up all their money and property to the poor, barred from speaking in public or publishing their hateful, untruthful and misleading words.  I’d give five dollars to Deport Rupert dot com.  And bottom feeding, fear mongers are a tiny group.  It would be easy to take away their rights.

What about hateful religious groups? The reason we have separation of church and state is actually not so churches can play politics tax free.   It’s because many immigrated to this country initially to escape the religious persecution where they came from.  That’s changed.  Today churches are in charge of religious persecution.  But, church by church, each denomination is still a minority.

What if a group set about to take away one specific denomination’s tax status, strip them of non church property, bar them from voting and prevented them from marrying or adopting in an effort to get their group to die out? Unlike being gay, religion is actually a choice.  Who would choose to convert to a religion when doing so would cost them their rights as citizens?  Another easy five dollar donation.  And, after the Mormons and the Catholics actually gave money to Prop H8 and promoted it from the pulpit, maybe even ten dollars of my money would be winding it’s way to Get-the-Hypocrites dot com.

I’m not saying that anyone should do any of this.  What I’m saying is that the rights of Pious Jerks and Radio Wingnuts are safer today, because a few more gay people fought for and won the same rights everyone else already had.

If you can’t take away my rights because you don’t like me, then I’m less likely to be able to take away your rights when I don’t like you.

It isn’t perfect, but it is a little less hateful.  I think that’s what this is all about.  The Constitution points out, we are seeking to “form a more perfect union.”

Today, that union seems a little more perfect, to me.

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Whenever I’m offered something that’s “Home Made” I always ask myself:  “Who’s home?”

I’ve been in some homes where I would not have eaten anything offered.  Got a Home Made Pie from a home with unemptied cat boxes, overflowing trash and a texture to the kitchen counters?  Well, I’ll pass.

I kind of feel the same way about the Family Research Council.  “Who’s family?” and perhaps more to the point, “What research?”

Theirs is the kind of family where Dad campaigns against equal rights for all Americans, particularly the gay ones, and then hires a young man half his age from Rentboy.com to accompany him on vacation.  Then, because dad is such a great guy, he lies about hiring the prostitute even though there’s home movies of them together at the airport.

If dad wants to take a hooker on vacation, I don’t really think it’s any of my business.  Mom’s maybe, but not mine.

But let’s say dad founded an organization called the Family Research Council, as George Alan Rekers did.  And suppose that organization is devoted to preventing Americans from having the right to marry people of the same sex, just as the Family Research Council does.  What kind of research would then convince Daddy George to pay someone of the same sex hired off of Hustlerboy.com to go on holiday with him? Was it these same findings that told him to lie about it? Or was it a different study?

Either way, theirs is a family reunion I don’t want to attend.

And what about Uncle Tony and his prayer group of Christian Law Makers? Was it research data or just good old fashioned Christian family values that brought AFC President, Tony Perkins together with those Godly legislators in a televised prayer circle to entreat the Lord for the poor health or, better still, the death of an ailing Senator so they could prevent poor people from having access to healthcare?

Whichever it was, I’d rather pass on Thanksgiving at their table.

Now, the good family folks at the Family Research Council want to ban groups they are prejudiced against from access to public transportation.  That’s right, not just the back of the bus, they want the right to keep other people off the bus entirely. Or in this case, off the train.

Just like in the good old days, the FRC family values bigots actually object to sharing public transportation with minorities they are prejudice against.  Fortunately, it’s gays they hate.  If they came out against black or Hispanic Americans on public transpiration they might actually have more to fear than sharing a seat.  (Head’s up though, research shows it was okay to be for whites-only drinking fountains not so long ago.)

What kind of family are these people a part of? And what is their research telling them? That God hates poor people? That Christ would pray for a man’s death to get his way? That calling for a return to Pre-Civil Rights Act restrictions on public accommodations and transportation is a good or even a popular idea?

My research indicates that none of those are particularly family values.  But then who’d order cat hair pie, right? They can hardly call themselves the Voice of Evil and expect to raise the kind of money they need to protect the health insurance industry.

So apparently, according to the latest Family Research Council data, it’s okay to take a rentboy on vacation, just not on the train.

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Names

Je m’apelle Eric.

But that’s not what everybody calls me.

Over the years I’ve been called a lot of things.

In Spanish class they always used to give me a Spanish name at the first of the year.  Mine never seemed to stick.  I was always so Eric.

Queer used to be really popular.  I got that a lot in “middle school.”  Do they still have middle school I wonder? Or have they gone back to having junior high?

Fag really gained in popularity in High School or the more formal, faggot.

I was so sexually naive that for a long time I didn’t even know what it meant.  It was just bad.  And then of course I understood what it meant.  And then I understood that I was.  But was I bad?

I didn’t think so.

For a long time, these names made me really angry.  Then one day it hit me.  I am a fag.  By every definition of the bigot’s efforts to slur me, I am.  The name only hurts if I think there’s something wrong with being a fag, and I don’t.

I live in West Hollywood where I’m told we have the largest concentration of gay people per capita of any city or whatever.  That means a lot of great things for me.  Mostly it means that I get to be not special as I go about my day.  What it also means is that if there’s some bigot out there who wants to call a gay person a fag, they pretty much only need to drive through town, roll down their window and shout.  Yelling fag in West Hollywood is like using a semi-automatic weapon, you don’t have to aim very carefully to hit your target.

Such affronts used to send me into a defensive rage, memorizing license plates, answering in kind.  Now, I just smile and wave.

I am.

You can’t hurt me with your hatred if it is no longer shared.

Still, I’m not big on the rather casual play that gay slurs get in the media.  What if Anne Coulter had called John Edwards the ‘N’ word? A very different outcome, I think.

It is currently okay to use slurs against gay people and white men, it seems.  One group because they really don’t care cause they already rule the world and the other because the government still sanctions institutional discrimination against them, so it must be okay.   Guess which is which.  This is not to say there aren’t many groups suffering the pains and privations of bigotry.

My point I think is that the power of names is given by the recipient not the user.

Everybody is calling everybody else a racist.  It is heartbreaking to witness the plight of the white Anglo Saxon American heterosexual male, these days.  N’est ce-pas? (I think that’s French for “You feel me?” or, for the other white boys out there, “Get it?”)

In the end the charges are at worst cynical manipulation or at best useless.

I can’t stop anyone else’s bigotry or their feelings of hatred, but I don’t have to participate.  Waving my flag and freaking out doesn’t seem to be helping.  In fact, with the current spate of poor put upon white men being ‘discriminated against,’ outrage seems to have been co-opted by the most bigoted among us.  Ask Shirley Sherrod.

I think the solution is the same now as it was for my Uncle Glenn.  When he was a little boy he was surrounded by a house full of doting women.  He had no need to speak.  He could just cry or throw a fit and he would be provided with all his needs.  By the time he was three, or so the story goes, he had yet to utter a word.

My Grandfather Silas, by all accounts a rather forbidding man, decreed that Uncle Glenn was not to be fed again until he spoke.

Apparently he was jabbering like a magpie by suppertime.

The point, I think, is this.  If we stop paying attention to the “shocking” utterances of bigots and racists and stilly white boys trying to draw a foul, they’ll try something else.  They really only want our attention, so what if we only pay attention to the good stuff? What if we only answer to the names we want to hear?

Meanwhile, just smile and wave.  It really pisses them off.

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Prop H8

The closing arguments in the Prop H8 federal trial will be heard today.

Proponents big argument is that gay people would not be good parents.  I can hardly believe that teaching hatred and intolerance is considered a good parenting skill.  And what about the gay kids? They can hear you, you know? Is this an example of how you would take care of children?

This is personal.  It hurts when people get up in court or congress or on the campaign trail and say mean, ugly, untrue things about me.  I can only imagine how deeply it hurts scared little gay children, hiding in plain sight with no one to tell or confide in.

Maybe that’s next.  First we tell people who they can marry and then we tell them who is allowed to have children.  I don’t really see much difference.

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The word abomination is one I hear a lot as a gay man. Good Christians stand on the corner near my house and scream it at me every Pride Day (and whenever else they can get away with it.) Miss Beverly Hills — who is from Pasadena — felt so strongly about what the Bible says on the subject of abomination that she went on Fox News to share her concerns.

Apparently, according to the sacred laws in the book of Leviticus, me having a boyfriend is an abomination. Miss Beverly Hills says I should be put to death for it. Yikes. Like dating wasn’t hard enough. It all sounds really serious so I looked it up.

Here is what Leviticus says about abomination in chapter 11 verse 12: “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.” That means eating shellfish is an abomination. Being gay is the same as dining at Red Lobster.

So my question is this: Where are the protestors? Where is the moral outrage? Where is Fred Phelps? Where is Miss Beverly Hills?

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